Masterpieces of Western Literature
|.Unit 11 Reading||Course Reading||Entry Page|
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This guide is keyed to the translation by Robert Fagles (Penguin Press).
Throughout the play, Antigone and Creon will talk much about friends and enemies. Think about what each means by these terms. In general, Antigone and Creon tend to use the same words but mean different things by them. For example, consider Antigone's re ference to being a "traitor" (57). This is a political term; does Antigone mean a traitor to the city, or to something else? Compare with Creon at 580.
Why does Antigone assume that Creon's order is directed against her and Ismene? When Creon appears later, consider whether his conduct and language in fact supports her assumption.
Do you sympathize at all with Ismene's caution? Does Antigone treat her fairly?
Why is Antigone so concerned with glory (113)? Should she be?
How old do you think Antigone is?
The chorus evokes Dionysus (171), the first of several times this god is mentioned. Why should the chorus call upon Dionysus? Look up Dionysus.
Throughout this scene, pay close attention to the assumptions Creon makes about gender.
When Creon talks about the gods and the law (317ff), is he talking about the
same types of gods as Antigone does?
How would you compare Creon's speech with Pericles' Funeral Oration? Do Creon's ideas resemble Pericles? (And his Antigone more like her father or Sappho?
Choral odes often generalize a given problem specific to the play's action into a statement about human life as a whole. Is that the case here? If so, then is the chorus alluding to Antigone, or to Creon, or to both?
Antigone is compared to a mother bird (471ff), not the last time she is referred to as maternal in this play. Is there anything strange or ironic about Antigone being represented as a mother?
Antigone's defense to Creon (499-524) is very important, so read it carefully.
Ismene defends Antigone and asks Creon how he could kill his own son's bride (641). Has there been any reference to this relationship before?
To what does Haemon appeal in his attempt to save Antigone?
Does Haemon threaten his father, as Creon thinks (842)?
Why does Creon chose the particular method of execution that he does (870-8)? What does it say about him?
How would you characterize the chorus' exchange with Antigone here?
Consider Antigone's speech which begins at line 978. Is this speech consistent with what she has argued before?
Is Antigone's faith in the gods wavering here?
What, specifically, in Tiresias' warnings leads Creon to change his mind?
Creon's wife is only on stage momentarily, yet she plays a key role in Creon's disaster. What does her suicide mean to him?
Is Creon a tragic figure? Do you feel sympathy for him at the end as someone who initially tried to do good yet was overwhelmed by circumstance, or do you believe that he is a bullying, misogynistic control-freak who gets what he deserves? Try to compe up with arguments for both sides. Could the play have been called Creon, instead?
Conversely, what, specifically, makes Antigone a tragic figure? Think about what, exactly, you mean by such words as "tragedy" and "tragic".